This morning the White House delivered a letter to several members of Congress on the topic of chemical weapons use in Syria. The letter … states that the US intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria,” Hagel told reporters traveling with him. He said it was sarin gas.
However, the White House stated that US Intelligence assessments on chemical weapons are not enough, adding that credible and corroborated facts are needed.
The White House statement added that the US is prepared for all contingencies on Syria to respond to any confirmed use of chemical weapons.
In fact some traces of chemicals have been found in soil samples, but there is no indication of who used them, except for the fact that they were used against Assad loyalists.
Sec Hagel said United States has warned that any chemical weapons use by Syria, would cross a “red line” that would trigger a response by the US and Allies.
AP: Today U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said the Syrian regime has launched two chemical attacks.
Posted By Josh Rogin Thursday, April 25, 2013 – 12:15 PM
The White House acknowledged for the first time Thursday that chemical weapons were likely used in Syria and lawmakers quickly responded to say President Barack Obama’s red line has been crossed.
At a briefing for all senators Thursday morning led by Secretary of State John Kerry and including representation from the office of the director of national intelligence and the FBI, lawmakers were given a letter from Obama stating that his administration now believed that the regime of President Bashar al Assad has used chemical weapons. The new assessment brings the United States in line with the assessments of Britain, France, the Israel Defense Forces, and the prime minister of Qatar, who addressed the issue Wednesday evening in Washington.
“Our intelligence community does asses with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent Sarin,” Miguel Rodriguez, the director of the White House office of legislative affairs, wrote in the letter.
That conclusion was based in part on “physiological samples,” the White House said. British intelligence agents were reported to have secured soil samples from an alleged instance of chemical weapons use in Aleppo and Damascus in March. Syrian activists also claim that the regime used chemical weapons last December in Homs, but two State Department investigations failed to confirm that allegation.
The White House said the chain of custody for the evidence was not clear so the U.S. intelligence community cannot confirm where or how the chemical weapons were used.
In regards to the so called chain of custody: the insurgents were supplied with chemical weapons from Libya and trained in there use many months ago. BOTH Syria and the insurgents have chemical weapons and the assumption that only Syria has them and that therefore they were used by Syria, is entirely baseless and false.
“Thus far, we believe that the Assad regime maintains custody of these weapons, and has demonstrated a willingness to escalate its horrific use of violence against the Syrian people,” the letter stated.
The use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would cross the “red line” President Barack Obama first established in an Aug. 20 statement. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation,” Obama said.
Israeli Navy ships are now searching for debris in the Mediterranean Sea after Israel Air Force F-16 warplanes downed a drone eight kilometers at sea off Haifa.
The Israeli army spokesman issued a statement: An attempt by an unmanned aerial vehicle to enter Israel’s air space was thwarted. The UAV was identified flying from the north past the coast of southern Lebanon and continuing south. It was tracked continuously until it was downed by Israeli fighter planes and attack helicopters.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “We take an extremely grave view of this attempt to violate our borders and will continue to guard them and keep our citizens safe.” He added, “We are watching events in Syria and Lebanon with extreme concern. Syria is breaking up and Lebanon is unstable. Both places pose not inconsiderable perils to Israel.
In fact the Damascus regime is beginning to get the upper hand against the foreign supported mercenaries infiltrating from Jordan, Iraq and Turkey; which may well be making open foreign military intervention to save the US regime change for Syria agenda, critical.
Syria’s air force carried out air strikes on rebel enclaves near Damascus on Thursday, while clashes pitted rebels against troops in the north of the capital, a monitoring group said.
Warplanes also struck villages in the northwestern province of Idlib, rebel-controlled Raqa in the north, Hasake in the northeast and Daraa in the south, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Helicopters, meanwhile, strafed several targets in the Eastern Ghouta area, east of Damascus, a rebel stronghold and scene of intense battles in past months.
Thursday’s violence comes a day after an army takeover of the town of Otaybeh, east of Damascus, which the Observatory said “opens the gate for the army into the Eastern Ghouta area”.
Warplanes also struck Moadamiyet al-Sham and Daraya, southwest of Damascus, where the army has for several months tried to crush the insurgency.
Rebels have used areas east and southwest of Damascus as rear bases and as gateways into the capital.
The Observatory also reported fierce clashes pitting troops against rebels in the flashpoint Barzeh district of northern Damascus, which rebels have infiltrated from the east.
Elsewhere, warplanes struck Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, as well as several villages in the Hasake and Daraa countryside.
In Raqa province, fighter jets struck an area near a sugar factory, while “fierce clashes pitting troops against rebels raged near army Base 17”, near the provincial capital.
Rebels have had the base under siege for several weeks.
Although rebels have controlled the provincial capital Raqa since March, troops holed up in the base have held out.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon promised Thursday that Israel would retaliate for the UAV flight into Israeli airspace Thursday, and assumed the flight to be a Hezbollah operation.
“There will be an Israeli reaction,” said Danon on IDF Radio.